Red Storm drops another close one on Senior Night


Jordan Stagmiller was honored with three other members of the senior class prior to their final game at Belson Stadium (Photo: Gina Palermo, Torch Design Editor)

Troy Mauriello, Assistant Sports Editor

The St. John’s men’s soccer team returned to Belson Stadium on Wednesday night for their final home game of the season against the Villanova Wildcats in a critical matchup for each team’s Big East Tournament hopes.

It was Senior Night at a rain-drenched Belson Stadium as defenders Devin Morgan and Gabriel Camara, midfielder Luis Esteves and goalkeeper Jordan Stagmiller were each honored as graduating seniors during a pregame ceremony.

“It’s been an honor to have a chance to coach all those kids,”  head coach Dave Masur said postgame. “They’re a part of the St. John’s soccer family for life.”

Besides the nice ceremony, this game also featured massive Big East Tournament implications for each team. Coming in, the Wildcats and Johnnies each sat on the outside looking in for the upcoming Big East Tournament, in seventh and eighth place in the conference respectively.

The Red Storm came out on the attack early, with four corner kicks in the first 10 minutes, putting some early pressure on the Villanova defense. Freshman forward Filippo Ricupati continued the pressure in the 12th minute when he beat the Wildcats goalkeeper with a shot that deflected off the near post and was cleared.

Despite the hot start for St. John’s, the Johnnies would find themselves playing from behind once again. A 19th minute goal from Villanova’s Max Kroschwitz that was rocketed past Stagmiller gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.

That would end up being one of just two shots that the Red Storm defense allowed in the first half. Despite their consistent offensive attacks, they would go into halftime trailing 1-0.

The St. John’s offense continued to chip away as the second half got going, but still could not find the back of the net. Esteves fired a shot off a free kick that was deflected just over the goal by a defender. Six minutes later, the Red Storm narrowly missed another equalizer.

Esteves was back at it again in the 72nd minute, when his shot was blocked right in front of the keeper and sat aimlessly in front of the net before being cleared by a Wildcat defender. This was the second time on the night that the Red Storm could not capitalize off a juicy rebound sitting in front of the goal.

The final St. John’s opportunity of the night came on a free kick with just under five minutes left to play. Esteves fired a hard ground ball that made its way to the Villanova goalkeeper; however, it was easily picked up as the threat was averted.

The Wildcats would add a late insurance goal on a three-on-one breakaway in the final minute to take a 2-0 lead, one that they would hold on to to steal the huge road victory.

“Like we’ve seen so many times, we tired a little bit in the second half,” said Masur. “We have a lot of new guys in the program that aren’t up to the tempo of the game for 90 minutes.”

With the loss, St. John’s dropped to 3-10-3 and saw their conference record fall to 1-4-2 with two games left in the season.